Towering over the rest of Tokyo’s skyline, the new 634-metre Sky Tree serves as an emblem of modern Japan.
The recently-completed tower has supplanted the CN Tower as the second-tallest skyscraper in the world, behind only the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It is also the world’s tallest communications tower.
The architects made a point of adhering to Japanese principles when designing the Sky Tree, creating “a community inheriting the DNA of Japanese Shitamachi craftsmanship and creating a new urban culture through human interaction.” To achieve this, they planned a ‘town with a tower’ that offered a nod to Japan’s rich history while embracing the new.
The needle-like tower is the only skyscraper in the immediate vicinity, ensuring it would stand out all the more.
It takes the form of a white, gridded cone made of steel. As it rises, it tapers off, with the exception of two observation areas which extend slightly from the majestic tower. The observation decks are 1,148 feet and 1,476 feet off the ground, offering a view for miles. Retail stores and food services are located within the observation areas.
Within the gridded exterior, a blue-tinged piece runs upward. The white speaks to Japanese history, representing beauty and pride, while the blue adds a decidedly modern touch. Light reflects off the blue element, which adds lustre to the building.
Sky Tree’s facade may be simple in appearance, but the design is anything but. Thanks to an intricate, energy-efficient lighting system, the structure will be lit up in purple or blue on varying nights.
The building is roughly 230,000 square metres in size and cost $806 million to complete. It will serve as a tourist attraction in addition to its primary function as a communications tower.
With the development site extending beyond the tower itself – there is green space at the base – it will help drive up tourism even further. The hope is that the Sky Tree will help the area overcome the sharp decline it saw in tourism following the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011.